Friday, January 13, 2012

Thrifty Food shopping

Living on a special diet can be expensive - free from food in the supermarkets is very pricey and you will usually pay more for your food in cafes and restaurants (the ones that you can eat in), partly because the cheapest deals usually contain a lot of inexpensive wheat flour and also because there won't  be a lot of choice in the dishes that are GF safe. 

But there are plenty of ways to spend less on food shopping and making the most out of what you do buy:

Special Free-from stuff
I try to avoid buying many "free-from" bread/biscuits apart from when I'm having a difficult/rushed week or when we are away from home.  I find them pretty high in sugars and white starchy flours (high GI) anyway so they tend to not keep me filled up for long.   In fact, I usually feel like I've had a complete sugar overload when we've been away!

Home made
A great way to save money is to cook at home and make as many meals as you can from scratch, avoiding pre-made foods.  This is really a must anyway if you're avoiding more than one allergen like me and is pretty sound advice even if you're not allergic to anything but watching the pennies.     

Even if you consider the price of free-from flours, it's cheaper to bake your own biscuits, crackers, cakes and bread.  It's worth looking in Asian supermarkets, or the world food aisles of your regular supermarkets as many stock big bags of rice flour, chickpea flour etc for much cheaper than the free-from sections.

Seasonal
Make the most of fruit and veg deals in the supermarkets - most things have a cheap season and remember fruit freezes well (even if it does go a bit mushy) so you can make some summer fruit crumbles with it when winter comes. Some but not all veg freezes well, but most leafy things don't.  Carrots are ok if you cook them first.

Shop less
It may seem obvious, but shop less.  Next time you get to the end of your shopping week and are about to a big food shop, don't! See if you can go an extra day/night by cooking dinner using up left over foods in your fridge, cupboards, freezer. This helps you get into good habits when thinking of cheap meals.  Good end of the week dinners are things like casserole, soup, fish pie (frozen fish and peas), ratatouille, risotto.

Do a "big" food shop every fortnight and just top up in between.  Write  a rough menu for the week before you go shopping so that you're less likely to do impulse shopping.